Garden Party

[Track Info] [The Lyrics] [Explanation]

Garden Party - Track Info

1. Album version (07:16)

2. Edited studio version (04:26)

3. Alternative studio version (07:16)

4. Remix version (07:11)

5. Live (London, England - "Hammersmith Odeon", April 18th '83) (06:49)

6. Live (Leicester, England - "De Montford Hall", March 5th 1984) (06:31)

7. Edited Live (Leicester, England - "De Montford Hall", March 5th 1984) (06:56)

Notes: The edited single version 2), compared to album version 1), lacks the intro (first 37 seconds), the second strophe ("Edgy eggs and queuing cumbers..."), the following first refrain ("Champagne corks are firing at the sun..." and the strophe "Aperitifs consumed en masse..." (it resumes with the verse "Doctor's son a parson's daughter..."; the central instumental section is shorter (it lacks the last 8 bars); the verse "I'm fucking" is replaced with "I'm miming". 3) is equal to 1), except for the verse "I’m fucking", replaced in 3) with "I’m miming". The remix version 4) is only slightly different from 1) (several small effects). All live versions follow studio album version. In 5) Fish sings by mistake the third strophe ("Aperitifs consumed en masse...") instead of the second ("Edgy eggs and queuing cumbers..."): so the third strophe is repeated twice. 6) is joined to Market Square Heroes (which comes after). 7) is the same as 6), but edited to have an abrupt finale (The last part, 20 seconds of Market Square Heroes of "Real To Reel" after "Montford goodbye" plus 5 seconds of applause at the start makes it look longer than the "Real To Real" version).

Lyrics by Derek William Dick (Fish)
Preformed Live for the First Time: 14-Mar-81

Published by Marillion Music, Charisma Music Publishing Co. Ltd..

Garden Party - The Lyrics

Garden party held today, invites call the debs to play, Social climbers polish ladders,
Wayward sons again have fathers, "Hello, dad!", "Hello, dad!"
Edgy eggs and queuing cumbers, rudely wakened from their slumbers
time has come again for slaughter on the lawns by still "Cam" waters,
It's a slaughter, it's a slaughter

Champagne corks are firing at the sun again
Swooping swallows chased by violins again

Straafed by Strauss they sulk in crumbling eaves again, Oh God not again!

Aperitifs consumed en masse display their owners on the grass
Couples loiter in the cloisters, social leeches quoting Chaucer

Doctor's son a parson's daughter where why not and should they oughta
Please don't lie upon the grass, unless accompanied by a fellow,
May I be so bold as to perhaps suggest Othello, perhaps suggest Othello

Punting on the Cam is jolly fun they say
Beagling on the downs, oh please do come they say
Rugger is the tops, a game for men they say, they say, good God they say

I'm punting, I'm beagling, I'm wining, reclining
I'm rucking, I'm fucking1, so welcome,
It's a party

Angie chalks another blue, mother smiles she did it too
Chitters chat and gossips lash, posers pose, pressmen flash, flash, [flash]

Smiles polluted with false charm, locking on to Royal arms,
Society columns now ensured, returns to mingle with the crowds
Oh what a crowd

Oh, punting on the Cam, Oh please do come they say
Beagling on the downs, Oh please so come they say
Garden party held today they say, Oh please do come, Oh please do come, they say.

1) Replaced with "Miming" in the studio version of the single release.
In the edited version the purple coloured parts are missing. 

Copyright 1997 Fraser Marshall, Matthew Anderson & Bert ter Steege.


Fish (The Funny Farm Interview - July '95, Dick Bros) said: Diz and I moved down to Cambridge where I had a girl friend who was an archaeology student at the time. So we were actually living in this all female block down in Cambridge; I think it was Newlands College or something, having to sneak during the day through the windows because there were no males supposedly allowed in the college. Funnily enough that was the first place I ever painted my face; we got invited to this party so, seeing as how we were rock and roll people, we decided to be very outrageous. And we got all this Boots #7 stuff etc., I remember Diz did his face up like a cat, and I'd painted my face up as something. We gone down to this little party, and drunk this wonderful wine and being quite outrageous. And that period actually inspired the track Garden Party [...] We couldn't get the band started; we didn't have any money, so we just wandered about being very involved in the Cambridge student scene and punting and all that sort of stuff.

I’ve still included Torch’s stuff here, but I must say that his whole explanation is wrong as far as I’m concerned (Ed.).

Torch said: Okay, we know what "Garden Parties" are etc., but I feel the crucial point was overlooked on the FAQ, that here Fish is turning the whole thing into a gross and grotesque satire by caricaturing the occupants and making it be invaded by sexual escapades. . . the LAST thing one would see on such an occasion. Hence the dirty schoolboy puns of "please do come they say" etc.

A few other points to add to the FAQ comments. . . "Social climbers polish ladders" because the device they use to climb, e.g. soukie (sic. - Ed) conversation and crawling flattery they are brushing up on, but also they are perhaps washing their penises like medals before the orgy begins. . . ladders. . . ?

"Wayward sons again have fathers" - How's yer father. . . ? (an English slang euphemism for having sex. Ed) or just that this is the day their parents come to see them graduate so it's remembering your best behaviour.

Eggs and cumbers. . . yes yes yes. . . Crumbling eaves, a nice pun on eaves dropping. . . Chaucer mentioned again as in Cinderella Search. . . a writer greatly into cultured carousing.

The ultimate defeat of the classes Fish hates happens when they are caught on film shagging by "pressmen". "Society columns now ensured, Oh what a crowd!

Maybe Fish was bitter because he went for an interview for Sandhurst and told the guy he was a pompous prick. . . they are the kind of folk he curiosities in GP.

Also the early bits of the song were penned when Fish was in Cambridge looking for a band with Diz Minnit as his girlfriend was a student there. . . it may have been Kayleigh. (it wasn’t. - Ed) He spent most of the time sleeping on floors and pretending to be a student. . . jealousy?

Marvellous song, whatever, and very imaginative, typically Fish-bitterness!

Contraction of ‘Debutante’. Geoff Parks said: `Deb' is short for debutante. By tradition, the daughters of the `ruling class' in Britain are presented at court (i. e. , introduced to the king or queen) when they reach the age of 18 - they make their debut in social circles, hence the term `debutante'. Over the summer which following this these debutantes attend all the `essential' social events and each host a `coming out' party. The object of all this is to find a husband. It is all a very elaborate mating ritual! By extrapolation, the term deb is applied to any girl from the upper classes whose main purpose in life seems to be to find a rich (or potentially rich) husband. There are lots of these at Cambridge! (Taken from Jeroen Schipper’s FAQ on the Web Online)

Sarah Lanel said: It's a practice which still continues amongst the British upper class, although not as widespread as it was say 20 years ago.

Glen Seymour: Some Americans might not get the reference to "queuing cumbers." Althought the phrase "queuing" is quite common in Britain, US citizens would say "lining up."

Geoff Parks said: `Cumber' is short for cucumber (the salad vegetable). Two of the most common delicacies at garden parties are cucumber sandwiches and egg sandwiches. In Britain the construction of a sandwich is much simpler than here in the US - it is: slice of bread, butter, filling, butter, slice of bread. At the `best' garden parties such sandwiches will have had the crusts removed and be cut into little triangles. Many hundreds of these will be consumed hence `The Great Cucumber Massacre' sub-title. (Taken from Jeroen Schipper’s FAQ on the Web Online)

In addition to the pun on ‘cucumber’, I’m told that a cumber is the band of cloth sometimes worn around the waist when wearing a dinner jacket, although I can’t find any references to back this up.

The River Cam is a 64km feeder tributary of the River Ouse which flows through Cambridge. The Ouse flows into the Wash at King’s Lynn in Norfolk.

Swallows are migratory birds which return to Northern Europe in the late Spring and Summer. This is the season of the Garden Party. There is an expression, ‘One Swallow does not make a spring. ’

Brewer’s:(Ger. Strafen, to punish) A word borrowed in good humoured contempt from the Germans during WWI. One of their favourite slogans was ‘Gott strafe England!’ The word applied to any sharp and sudden bombardment, and also used by Americans in W. W. II for the machine gunning of troops or civilians by low flying aircraft.

Pear’s Cyclopedia: Strauss. Family of Viennese musicians. Johann Strauss (1804-49) the Elder, was a composer of dance music, who with Joseph Lanner established the Viennese Waltz tradition. His son, Johann Strauss (1825-99) the Younger, although not so good a violinist as his father, was the composer of over 400 waltzes including ‘The Blue Danube’ and ‘Tales from the Viennese Woods’

It is unlikely that the song refers to Richard Strauss (1864 - 1949) who was the composer of symphonic operas and poems, especially given the feel of the song.

Geoff Parks said: Eaves are the part of the roof that hangs over the wall. The area underneath the eaves is called the eavesdrop. (Taken from Jeroen Schipper’s FAQ on the Web Online)

Pears Cyclopeadia: Geoffrey Chaucer (1340? - 1400) English poet. His main work, ‘The Canterbury Tales’, gives a vivid picture of contemporary life. (Cp. CINDERELLA SEARCH for more information about Chaucer. )

Geoff Parks said: `Punting' is a leisure pursuit. A punt is long shallow rectangular boat. This is propelled along the river by standing at one end with a long pole which one pushes against the river bed. It takes quite a bit of practice to get the thing to go in a straight line. Usually a bunch of friends go punting. Each takes a turn doing the `driving'. The others sit in the punt talking, drinking, trying to catch ducks etc. On a nice day and in the right company it is actually quite a pleasant way to while away the hours. (Taken from Jeroen Schipper’s FAQ on the Web Online)

Geoff Parks said: Beagling is a low budget version of fox-hunting. A beagle is a type of dog similar to a fox hound. To go beagling one assembles a pack of these dogs and a bunch of hunters (on foot) and sets off across the fields in search of a hare, rabbit or some similarly inoffensive creature. (Taken from Jeroen Schipper’s FAQ on the Web Online)

‘I’m miming’
For the single release, the naughty word was replaced with ‘miming’. It was rather unclear until Fish appeared on Top of the Pops, the UK's long running chart show. At the point where he ought to be saying the broadcastable ‘miming’ he shut his mouth and merely pointed at his lips!

Geoff Parks said: Another name for rugby (the game). The two most important sports played in Cambridge are rowing and rugby. University sport in Britain has nowhere near the status it does in the US but the annual rowing and rugby contests between Oxford and Cambridge (the Boat Race and the Varsity Match) are televised nationally. `Rugger is the tops' simply means `rugby is the most enjoyable sport'. Incidentally, the term `rucking' which appears in the song is a technical term from rugby. (Taken from Jeroen Schipper’s FAQ on the Web Online)

A relatively lowly order in the Church of England. See Steve Rothery in the video to make more sense of this!

‘chalks another blue’
Geoff Parks said: A `blue' is a sporting honour. To obtain a blue you have to represent Cambridge University against Oxford in a major sport. You could be in the team all year but if you miss the Oxford game due to injury you don't get your blue. The major sports are rowing, rugby, football (a.k.a. soccer), cricket, (field) hockey, boxing + perhaps one or two others. If you represent the university in a minor sport (e.g.. tennis, squash, badminton, ice hockey, basketball. . . ) you get a `half-blue'. Receiving a blue entitles you to numerous privileges, such wearing a hideous light blue blazer (dark blue at Oxford), and gives you considerable status amongst those who consider athletics more important than academics. (Taken from Jeroen Schipper’s FAQ on the Web Online)

Paul Irvine said: There is a simpler explanation. Here in England someone who is somehow connected with the royal family, or a Lord, Peer, etc. , is said to be "blue blooded". Hence "blue" from the song. (Taken from Jeroen Schipper’s FAQ on the Web Online)

'Society columns'
These are gossip pages found in the newspapers and are lists of which well-connected, well-bred or well-moneyed people is seeing who. It’s tittle tattle - one such is Nigel Dempster in the Daily Mail. I’ll paraphrase so you get the idea; “Sources tell me that my good friend and confident Baron Haddington has been seen with the eligible young Lady Nina of Berlin. I wonder if I shall be buying them a wedding gift soon?” It’s all to do with who’s in favour and who’s out.


Last Modified: 27 Jul 2000